2718 N Bremen St
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Ph: (414) 374-2587 - Website
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Sun-Thu 4pm-1:30am
Fri-Sat 4pm-2am
Opened in 1995
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
The Rendez'vous, Kenosha 33.4 mi
53.7 km
The Tiki Terrace, Des Plaines 72.2 mi
116.2 km
Hala Kahiki, River Grove 78.7 mi
126.6 km
Paradise Club, Chicago 78.3 mi
126.0 km
The Breakers, Crystal Lake 60.9 mi
98.1 km
Interior of Foundation in Milwaukee
2012, from the collection of Don Nelson
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Humuhumu’s description:
Foundation began as a punk bar, and around 2004 began a conversion into a punk tiki bar at the prompting of manager Don Nelson. Today the bar has left its punk roots behind, and has completed the metamorphosis into a beloved and completely punk-free tiki bar. It is chock full of tikis, many carved by local tiki artist Lake Tiki. The menu is full of traditional and modern tropical drinks, served in tiki mugs.
There are 11 comments.
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May 3, 2010, 5:21 AM
The Foundation has the best Mai Tais in Wisconsin. No, scratch that. The Midwest. Hand-made while you wait like they should be. No pre-mix here. Amazing decor with attention to the little things like the frames around the pictures and the moulding around the doors. Plus, how did they get candles in the pufferfish lamps? Anyone can throw tikis on a bar and call it a Tiki Bar but when you step into Foundation, you'll know the real thing. The music is the best I've heard in any Tiki Bar as well. Once again the attention to detail sets this place apart. Tiki music mixed with Surf and Lounge heightens the atmosphere. Not being a local (it's a 2 hour drive for me), I always feel welcome here. The look, the vibe, the music, the people. Can this be the perfect Tiki Bar? If I had a Tiki Bar, it would be a clone of Foundation. Yeah, I like this place.
PhilTiki is a semi-regular at Foundation.

May 3, 2010, 8:07 AM
I went on an extensive surfing Jack Kerouac backpacking trip in Hawaii in 2008 and out of all the Mai Tai's I've tried there, The Foundation's are the best tasting and the freshest! The decor is highly detailed and every time you go, you see something you hadn't the last time you were there. The service has always been amazing and extremely friendly (even one of the bar-tenders has a nickname "Smiley"). Other than the Mai Tai's, their list of tropical/exotic tiki drinks is vast and explore-worthy (my favorite besides the Mai Tai is "The Zombie"). There's plenty to do while you enjoy the decor and excellent music. There's a quality pool table in the back surrounded by old school paintings of the ocean and wave breaks. If you want to challenge the regulars, go on Thursdays for their weekly "Surfer's Stomp" when Rick "Real Job" Royale spins old classic and abscure surf-rock records, but the competitors are fierce (especially Dustin and Jeff). So check this place out on a hot summer night, cause you'll leave thinking you flew to Kona for the evening. It's really the only bar I go to (and there's no douchey college dick-heads). Mahalo!
jpurcell is a regular at Foundation, and is usually there Every Thursday for The Surfer's Stomp and weekends.

May 3, 2010, 10:15 AM
Surprisingly, one of America's best tiki bars is in this unassuming building in a dodgy Milwaukee neighborhood. Don't let the gay bar name or the lack of blenders fool you, this bar is at the cutting edge of rum mixology at thrift shop prices! The barmen are definitely more skilled during the workdays and watching them assemble your tropical libation is a thing of beauty. More importantly, this is a bar for those who've spent countless hours guesstimating what a particular tiki cocktail will taste like with a particular combination of quality rums. The frozen tundra may not be a cornucopia of fresh juices and fruits, but they are clearly a destination of the rum trade. For half the price of a more upscale joint, you can experience a Mai Tai made with your choice of name brand rums. Wonder what that Mai Tai will taste like with specific Jamaican and Brazilian rums? Not a problem. Just order one! A must do destination for any serious rum afficianado. My mouth just salivates at the heavenly aroma rising from the mint as I raise the Mai Tai to my lips and I can be secure in the knowledge that I'll be able to afford another. My inner Lono is soothed as my synapses wrap around this delightful concoction, happily tranquil that the DJ will not kill my buzz with a blaring Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, limbo party medley. Tiki for the working man; as it was meant to be.
Otto von Abbattoir is a regular at Foundation, and is usually there After 10PM..

May 3, 2010, 11:01 AM
Getting your tiki on in bleak midwinter is no small feat, but Foundation will get you there. Technicolor blow-fish lamps swim through this leopard and bamboo treasure; the perfect little island escape in Riverwest Milwaukiki.
Pineapple Princess is a semi-regular at Foundation.

May 8, 2010, 2:35 PM
From the unequaled, delicious Mai Tais to the music, Foundation is the ideal tiki bar. It tantalizes the senses. There is an evident personal passion in the decorating, that is missing in many other tiki bars. Just when you think it can't get any better it does, with the addition of new and interesting decor. I absolutely love the Foundation and I've never been disappointed in any way.
NauTiki is a regular at Foundation, and is usually there Tuesdays and Saturdays.

March 16, 2011, 5:31 PM
This place is rad! I just moved a few blocks away and I'm glad I did, the drinks are good and resonably priced. Has a down to earth vibe and plays good surf music!!!! That is a must in tiki bars for me and some don't live up to it, but Foundation does. I fully support this place and you should check it out if in the area.
KaitlinPD is a semi-regular at Foundation.

July 6, 2011, 3:32 AM
Foundation Tiki Bar's new menu, which premiered a month or two ago, is pretty great. In addition to the Trader Vic's style Mai Tai they've added a nice collection of classics like a nice Donn Beach inspired Zombie; also a number of old staples like the Fog Cutter, Jet Pilot, and Shark's Tooth to name a few. One of their original drinks that I like a lot is called Al's Grog.
I always have a great time here, especially during the weekdays... weekends can be very busy and it is a small place to begin with.
But check out the new menu... you won't be disapointed.
ktiki is a semi-regular at Foundation.

July 21, 2011, 8:23 PM
come on, i didnt think it could get better but the new menu and don going crazy with the decor is amazing- its great with the back now done up like the front so no more pool table. i am so in love with this place, escape and crafted drinks from great bar tenders and mix's made in house!
demontech is a regular at Foundation, and is usually there never thought it could get better. it did!.

December 2, 2011, 10:29 PM
I've been to the Foundation twice now, and it is my new favorite place in Milwaukee. Great attention to quality drinks (had the Jet Pilot last week, which was very tasty). The decor is well done as well (maybe the tin ceiling is not totally Tiki, but still very cool). Definitely worth a visit if you are traveling to Milwaukee, or if you are a local, you should make this a regular hang.
Chappy has visited Foundation.

July 28, 2012, 12:51 PM
I just visited last weekend, and I'm glad I did. The decor reminds me of Frankie's Tiki Room, without the bartop video poker and the haze of cigarette smoke. The drinks are good, and they have a decent selection of souvenir mugs. The bar pizza is nothing special, but it helps soak up the rum. We'll definitely be back (and next time, someone else will be driving so I can drink more than half of one tiki drink).
Wiki Tiki has visited Foundation.

June 13, 2015, 7:31 PM
When I travel, I try to find a Tiki Bar. Last week, business made me go to Milwaukee. I looked on Critiki for a bar and two popped up. Foundation had a high score.

I went there and boy was I impressed. I would rank it as a top 10 tiki bar. Yeah, I was a little weirded out by the neighborhood and yeah, the place looks like an old house on the outside with an Easter Island head nailed to the side of it, but when you open the door, you are in a tropical wonderland. The crowd is friendly, the drinks are strong and authentic. None of your orange juice and pineapple "Mai Tai" here.

Don Nelson is a mixologist extraordinaire and loves his tiki culture. The music playing at Foundation is a wonderful mix of exotica, Bossa Nova, lounge, surf and the rest of the good stuff that is era specific and perfect.

I checked out another Tiki Bar in the area, had a decent Mai Tai, got a snoot full of pop rock and rockabilly and headed right back over to Foundation. Honestly, this was one of the best Tiki Bars that I have been to and I am looking for an excuse to return to Milwaukee... just to visit Don and Foundation again.

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